1 Leave a comment on paragraph 1 0 Spatial matters:

2 Leave a comment on paragraph 2 0 These questions seem to pertain to our studies:

  • 3 Leave a comment on paragraph 3 0
  • Space for whom? How do publics (artistic, protest, social movements) interrupt to open up the possibility for inclusion/visibility/legibility/audibility of interests and subjectivities that go against neoliberal logics, dominant narratives, hegemonic publics and the state?
  • How are publics themselves restricted in their engagements with other publics? Whose bodies, voices, and actions remain invisible, inaudible, and ineffectual in public space?

4 Leave a comment on paragraph 4 0 Space is something we do – it takes various forms (physical and discursive, concrete and ephemeral, momentary and permanent) and acts on the social and political in various ways

  • 5 Leave a comment on paragraph 5 0
  • In Tyler’s study: MST’s occupation of rural sites creates emancipatory space
  • In Rafael’s study: MPL’s occupation of transportation and urban infrastructure – streets and bridges, for example, challenges the spatial structure and logic determined by the state
  • In Misty and Cory: Discursive and performative creation of spaces for dissent and corrective public memory (Moral Monday’s and Reverend Barber’s sermon-style oratory; Simone Leigh’s staging of black memory and culture)
  • In Mette’s study: See Lefebvre’s spatial triad (space is social and has three ‘moments:’ representations, representational, lived); Rancière’s “Distribution of the Sensible” that proposes space as a certain social order – a police order; taken together, Lefebvre, Rancière, and Don Mitchell all in some way see public space as a space for representation, redemption, critical decoding, active dissent, as imbued with ideology, as agenda-setting, and as anarchic.

6 Leave a comment on paragraph 6 0 In light of our studies, these views and questions emerge:

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  • Space is imbrication – it is multiply and continuously created, deconstructed, claimed, and contested by capital, media, politicians, architects, and (powerful and power-less) publics and counter-publics
  • Public space is not distinct from political and economic vectors, as Habermas would have it – the political, social, and economic is baked into public space and with it, the public sphere: what we say, do and think largely depends on structures of capitalism. Here, I think of the marketization and financialization of priced public services and institutions like education, transportation, care facilities, and media. Despite its hegemonic control over public space, though, the market is just one of many factors that influence it – it is always in competition with other forces trying to counter those influences
  • That space is public does not denote open or free access – public space is the site and stake of struggle for participation and manifestation of recognition, voice, agency, identity, subjectivity, and representation; bodies, rights, and voice need space to exist in and through.
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    • In Cory’s study: “It seems that having a real humanity in the public sphere is often impossible, and so often black culture is cultivated in private“ — is there something inherently oppressive about public space, or the public sphere? Interesting to think about space as a key resource and as a means through which to affect and create history and public memory – space reveals and tells stories and may be used to erase and assert certain forms of subjectivity
  • Does the struggle in and for public space in the 21st century become one for common place, for collectivity, in ways that transcend private-public, market-state dichotomies? Does ‘common’ or ‘collective’ work better than ‘public’ as a way to think about being public together? (See Rafael and the MPL’s deliberate non-use of “public” as a battle cry).
  • What if we start with a reconceptualization of space and its ways of creating subjectivities? Struggles for public rights (pertaining to racial, spatial, and political issues, land and services for underserved public) are far from over and regardless of the outcome or public reception of such struggles/protests, they at least allow us to think of possible different ways of being public in real space and time. In other words, counter-hegemonic practices are generative of new imaginaries which have the potential to become reality. See Michael Warner’s ideas about counterpublics’ poetic world-making as part of their practice.

8 Leave a comment on paragraph 8 0 Conceptual issues:

  • 9 Leave a comment on paragraph 9 0
  • Dichotomies in our studies: public-private, public-counterpublic, inclusion-exclusion, and terminology of ‘rights,’ ‘privilege,’ ‘public,’ ‘collective’ — what work does the concepts we use do for us, what can be expected practically based on how we designate something theoretically? We all theorize something that goes beyond these dichotomies to arrive at alternative material and discursive terms and forms (the private performed in public writes over a neat private-public dichotomy; counterpublics or social movements that occupy space and who have gained enough momentum to bypass the state as a legitimating factor.
  • Is ‘public’ an identity and if so, is it one that counterpublics should or want to strive for? Does the signification ‘public’ mean anything in real terms? Can counterpublics be said to exist other than in theory and in Warner’s head? Is it more than just a useful theoretical device to describe a certain public by?
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    • Public-private – in Warner and Berlant’s “Sex in Public” (1998) they make the claim that “there is nothing more public than privacy” and they also posit the idea of a bourgeois partitioning of space and place — if the private is made visible, audible, and intelligible in public, what happens to ideas about the (desired) sanctity of privacy? What even constitutes private? Matters of gender, race, class, and sexuality are constantly publicized and debated in public.  It seems that there is a desire to make the private public – social media, constant recording of reality shared in virtual space, new forms of connectivity encourage sharing publication
  • What if we relinquish the dichotomous pairs and started using different terms to describe and discuss hierarchical power struggles between specific actors? Does changing the vocabulary have epistemological and even ontological effects on the discucssed?

10 Leave a comment on paragraph 10 0 Sticking with it: The usefulness of concepts: publics and counterpublics in Warner and Fraser

  • 11 Leave a comment on paragraph 11 0
  • Nancy Fraser in “Rethinking the Public Sphere: A Contribution to the Critique of Actually Existing Democracy” in Habermas and the Public Sphere (Cambridge: MIT Press, 1992), 109-42; Fraser in “Transnationalizing the public sphere” in Theory, Culture & Society 24: 7-30, 2007: “Counterpublics provide discursive arenas for the formulation of identity and discussion of common concerns – forums incl. magazines, newspapers, films, pop music, avant-garde scholarly or artistic institutions, academic journals and online communities. Participants articulate needs and desires outside of the supervision of dominant groups in more mainstream public spheres” (comment: think that is the case in all of our cases?). Fraser again: “Through processes of debates internal to them, counterpublics create counterdiscourses and counternarratives, which can then be used to lodge a collective, coherent, sustained discursive attack on what is commonly asserted and understood as ‘true.’ This structural change creates a space and a means for subordinated groups to exercise voice and, to challenge assumptions and to contest the status quo.” These counterpublics are strategically rendered in Fraser; they are politically oriented and deliberative in their contestation – kind of like participants in Habermas’ public sphere? See Michel Certeau’s distinction btw tactic and strategy (in The Practice of everyday Life, 1988) – he sees tactic as a weapon of the weak, and strategy as a weapon of the strong – perhaps the MPL (Rafael), the MST (Tyler), Moral Mondays (Misty), the Situationists (Mette) moved, as they grew stronger from tactical to strategic approaches – with that, did these groups effectively become publics? This leads to thoughts about size and durability of a (counter)public and whether it makes sense to think of a transition from counterpublic status to public with the course of time, growing momentum and membership?
  • Warner’s quote from Publics and Counterpublics relates interestingly to all of our protest/dissent/social/political/artistic publics: “This is one of the things that happen when alternative publics are cast as social movements – they acquire agency in relation to the state. They enter the temporality of politics and adapt themselves to the performatives of rational-critical discourse. For many counterpublics, to do so is to cede the original hope of transforming, not just policy, but the space of public life itself.” (89)
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    • We all have examples of grassroots, artists, local forms of organization and groups that succeed in circumventing or countering state and other dominant actors to assert themselves.
      • 11 Leave a comment on paragraph 11 0
      • What is the physical and discursive reach and scope of protest movements or dissenting publics?
      • Public recognition is not a condition for legitimacy of a dissenting/counter public – see Misty’s arg. about Moral Mondays and their legitimacy which is obtained by being perceived as illegitimate by those in power/the political establishment/dominant public — do counterpublics, if they exist, want or need recognition and if so, do they cease to be counter and become one of many publics or a public?

12 Leave a comment on paragraph 12 0 Public space – public sphere relationship

  • 13 Leave a comment on paragraph 13 0
  • Is public space entirely distinct from a public sphere in the Habermasian sense? I was thinking more specifically about the fact that the (counter)public we each are theorizing is making an appeal – rational, moral, affective – and what the best case outcome is perceived to be? Perhaps there is a way to use notions of the public sphere productively if we untie it from its reputed restrictive and bourgeois nature?
  • The public sphere is colonized – it has been subject to politicization by media and is controlled by special interests; creates a double bind: sphere within a space of some kind always already rendered or prefigured in ways that disable its potential to be a site of free and reasoned discussion and deliberation about which direction society should take – the police order has already set the agenda!
  • Idea of a hyper-public sphere of sharing and debate: do we have an intense need for rational exchange and a public sphere?
    • 13 Leave a comment on paragraph 13 0
    • Can public be too public? Different concerns – surveillance state: in addition to the state, we, the publics, record and surveil one another all the time – all eyes in space on space (screens and physical space). In most theorizations pertaining to public and publics, public space, and public sphere, there seems to be an implied and self-evident desire to be public and to act publicly in public space, to make the private public or transfigure what public-private means; an almost incessant preoccupation with a robust public sphere of debate and a near universal demand for public space – what might we miss out on when positing that? The dangerous super-public sphere of scrutiny, especially of the physical body?

14 Leave a comment on paragraph 14 0 Democracy and the political public – inclusion and exclusion

  • 15 Leave a comment on paragraph 15 0
  • All of our studies evolve around questions of democracy and spark questions about the nature of democracy. They also invite ideas about a material component of democracy. The battles in public space and the antagonistic encounters between groups who vie for space and place is ideal according to Chantal Mouffe’s notion of radical democracy – she sees agonistic interactions as expressions of a well-functioning democracy. To Mouffe, democracy is not about consensus; politics is about dissensus in Rancière — this contrasts with John Rawls and Habermas’s conceptions about deliberative democracy — are the publics we theorize leaning in different directions on this question about what democracy should be, and what it is?
  • What does public mean under neoliberal hegemony? How does the designation ‘public’ relate to ‘the political?’ ‘The political’ as conceived by Mouffe and Rancière is not about voting, running for office, or signing petitions – it is dissensus, agonism and antagonism. In Arendt and Habermas democracy or acting in concert is about consensus. How can we understand acts of counterpublics or acts of publics who claim to ‘act politically’ or to be ‘politically engaged’ when they ‘do their duty as citizens?’ Are publics members of a state because the state and institutions like the law say so?
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    • Think of democracy in the context of democracy and Rancière’s distribution of the sensible – if the police order sets the terms for what can be seen, heard, and said, i.e., the terms for democracy, and if democracy is always already based on undemocratic distributions, where does that leave notions of justice, fairness, and self-proclaimed democratic publics who invoke moral dissent as a way of rebelling?
    • Is democracy and ‘the political’ kept “intact” trough exclusion or selective inclusion? Is partitioning of voice, subjectivity, agency, and power what democracy is all about? Is An democracy inherently an exclusive terrain in both in material, discursive, and social terms? Is the best counterpublics and those engaging in acts of civil disobedience of some form can hope for a revelation of this underlying condition? Is it the ultimate moral or political act to hold power to account, speak truth to power etc.? Or, having realized that that doesn’t work, to create alternative spaces or to alter and expand the range of the sensible? 

16 Leave a comment on paragraph 16 0 Institutionalization

  • 17 Leave a comment on paragraph 17 0
  • Institutions show up in each study — the public school, the museum and publicly commissioned art, “public” transportation, a social movement invoking religion, dissident artists with publications, films, and followers  — lead to questions about institutionalization as both potentially empowering and problematic?
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    • The (counter)publics we each theorize seem to push back against hegemonic institutions of some kind (state, whiteness, neoliberal logic, functionalist architecture and urban grid, capital, dominant narratives) and at the same time to (want to?) institutionalize themselves to a degree? Institutions lend people power, visibility and legitimacy, but also potentially folds them into the mainstream, thus negating or diminishing their potentially subversive practices?

18 Leave a comment on paragraph 18 0  Role of history

  • 19 Leave a comment on paragraph 19 0
  • Legacies of the past — generational debt and inspiration: History as empowering and fueling current movements — MST, MPL, Moral Mondays, long lineage of black female caregivers and the restoration and valorization of the past in the present public memory , SI (avant-garde tradition) — something about the past making a claim on/having purchase on the present

20 Leave a comment on paragraph 20 0 The place and space of the city and countryside – possibilities and problems

  • 21 Leave a comment on paragraph 21 0
  • Rebellion against dominant power structures is both ideological and material – place carries, enables and disables meaning
  • May ’68 for example – significance of streets for political action – collective expression of resistance against the power of the state and its institutions (law, police, fiscal and financial institutions)
  • The city and the rural as important places of social practice — workers’ self-management, public control over public services and places for a renegotiation of the social and political contract
  • Publicness of publics and public space — publics and public (and private) space are commodified, enclosed and demarcated, controlled, governed, surveilled – it is a necessity for the smooth operation of capitalism? See enclosure of commons as key to capitalist modes of production (capital has annexed a lot of physical space for production of its commodities) – it has sucked politics and the possibility for its exercise out of such space and co-opted and commercialized the rest of what used to be the foundation for a sphere of public debate of matters of common concern

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